Monday’s Music Moves Me: TV Themes From the ’50’s and ’60’s

There’s an expression in baseball, “threw him one in his wheelhouse,” when a pitcher throws a pitch to a hitter that he can not just hit, but that he can hit a long way. Well, when Alana came up with today’s theme, “TV Themes from your childhood,” she threw one in my wheelhouse. If you go to the search box in my right column and search for “TV themes,” you’ll see all the posts I’ve done with theme songs in them.

I went a little nuts with the theme and stopped myself at 15, not that I couldn’t have gone all night with this. I think I’ve done almost all of these before, so consider this my “greatest hits” list.

  1. Bonanza Sunday night at our house always included Bonanza, starring Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon and, for a time, Pernell Roberts. This show will live on forever in reruns, for good reason: It was good TV.
  2. Riverboat This is one that I don’t remember running the first time, but which I’ve recently been introduced to by local station 57.2, WATC TOO. This show starred Darren McGavin and, at least for the first season, Burt Reynolds in his first TV role.
  3. Perry Mason (“Park Avenue Beat”) Another classic TV show which starred Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins and William Talman. I think of Grandma Holton when I see this, because she loved it and we’d watch together sometimes. It was also the favorite TV show of Ayn Rand.
  4. The Man From UNCLE Must-see TV, 1960’s style. Starred Robert Vaughan, David McCallum, and Leo G. Carroll, with a notable list of guest stars.
  5. The Saint Based on the novels of Leslie Charteris and the movies featuring George Sanders as Simon Templar, also known as “The Saint,” it starred Roger Moore in the title role.
  6. The Avengers (original theme) Theme song from the first several seasons, when it starred Ian Hendry (the first season), Patrick Macnee, and the gorgeous Honor Blackman, who left the show to play Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger. This theme was written by jazz great Johnny Dankworth.
  7. The Avengers (new theme) ABC (American Broadcasting Company) in the US picked up the show from ABC (Associated British Company) in the UK, filmed the episodes in color and added a new theme, written by Laurie Johnston. Macnee was joined by the lovely Diana Rigg and the equally comely Linda Thorson in the Sixties, and by Gareth Hunt and the amazing Joanna Lumley in the 1976 reboot.
  8. Sciene Fiction Theater This ran from 1955 to 1957 as a syndicated series and WGN in Chicago re-ran it during the Sixties. We really didn’t watch this, but I remember the theme song, which sounds like it should be the theme to a romance or a soap opera.
  9. Alfred Hitchcock Presents The theme was Charles Gounod’s “Danse Macabre,” appropriate for The Master of the Macabre.
  10. Mr. Lucky Like Peter Gunn, this was a Blake Edwards production with music by Henry Mancini. Unlike Peter Gunn, it only lasted one season. Hell of a theme, which Mancini took to #21 and was covered by Vince Guaraldi.
  11. Mister Ed From the sublime to the ridiculous, this Filmways presentation (as they say at the end of the clip) aired in syndication its first season and on CBS thereafter. It starred Alan Young and “Bamboo Harvester” as Ed.
  12. Green Acres A victim of CBS’s “rural purge” in 1971, this show starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor and a cast of crazies that included Pat Buttram as the devious Mr. Haney and Hank Patterson, first Barbara Pepper and then Fran Ryan as the Ziffels, who had a pig they treated as a son.
  13. Pistols and Petticoats Another show we didn’t watch frequently, it starred Ann Sheridan, Ruth McDevitt and Douglas Fowley. It was only on for part of the 1966-67 season, which might explain that.
  14. The Real McCoys I remember watching this when we lived in Indianapolis in 1958-1959. It starred Walter Brennan as the family’s patriarch and Richard Crenna as his son and focused on the changing relationship between them.
  15. The Big Valley A show that starred Miss Barbara Stanwyck as the matriarch of the Barkley family, looking more beautiful than she did in her younger days. It also starred Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors and a young Linda Evans as her adult children.

If you’re really into vintage TV, YouTube user RwDt09 has really done a fantastic job of reconstructing TV schedules and assembling videos that are a composite of the shows’ opens. I can (and have) spent hours watching his videos. Definitely a channel to subscribe to.

That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for June 18, 2018.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, Alana, Michelle and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


30 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me: TV Themes From the ’50’s and ’60’s

  1. I remember most of these, John. In the Pittsburgh area, we had Chiller Theater which sometimes included science fiction but also a lot of really bad horror movies.


    1. Kind of like Svengoolie, who was local to Chicago until MeTV decided to put him on every Saturday night. We had a few horror movie shows, including “Creature Features,” “Screaming Yellow Theater” with the original Svengoolie, “Fright Night,” etc. Remember “Monster Chiller Horror Theater” from SCTV, with Joe Flaherty (a Pittsburgh native, by the way) as Count Floyd?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Every city had one, sometimes two. I was in Madison, Wisconsin with my family back in the ’70’s, and they had a guy who was scary only because you were afraid he’d hurt himself and you’d have to watch him suffer.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hill Street Blues can’t have been from the 50’s and 60’s can it? Am I THAT old?? A couple of these I don’t remember but most of them were staples when I was growing up. We even went to visit the Ponderosa once! Thanks for the memories, John.


    1. “Hill Street Blues” was from the ’80’s. You’re not crazy.

      TV was great when it was new. Station and network executives were willing to try anything, because there wasn’t the amount of content then. Now, so many people are producing so much content, they can afford to be more selective, and unfortunately what they tend to select is a rehash of what worked before.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, great job and I remember Big Valley. That was a good show. My mama made sure she was in front of the TV when that came on. Hmmm Don’t remember Fright night. Oh heck, we watched them all. Dad loved Big Valley too! Great job John… Tv shows are great!


    1. “Fright Night” was Channel 7’s short-lived horrorfest that ran on Saturday night. Not much more I can tell you about it; I think I watched it once. It was no match for “Creature Features” and “Screaming Yellow Theater”/”Son of Svengoolie”/”Svengoolie.”

      I think I’m just as amazed that Barbara Stanwyck moved effortlessly from movies to TV as anything. She was a very sharp woman: she could see that TV was a rising force all the way back in the ’50’s, and she knew she wanted to be a part of it.


  4. My parents loved Bonanza but otherwise watched mostly sitcoms. That’s a great list of shows from my youth. I passed on this theme since I thought it was movies and we never went to movies.


  5. “We’ve got a right to pick a little fight, Bonanza!….1 for 4, 4 for 1, that we guarantee, we’ve got a right to pick a little fight Bonanza!” I love Bonanza and the later version of the Avengers. I also love Green Acres and used to know all the words. I would add Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, I dream of Jeannie, Mary Tyler Moore show…the list could be endless


  6. I had decided to not feature some childhood favorites such as Bonanza and the Man from U.N.C.L.E – you picked some I didn’t know – Riverboat, and Mr. Lucky. Ah, remember the days of the doctor shows, the lawyer shows – and the secret agent shows. Good times! Thanks for the look back. If I’m ever guest conductor again, I’ll pick something hard, just for that……


    1. I just love the old TV themes and opens. RwDt09’s YouTube channel has a lot of them grouped together, and he finds some very obscure stuff, syndicated series from the ’50’s and ’60’s, shows that lasted less than a full season, you name it, he finds it. His channel was what inspired me to do a lot of my music posts.


  7. John,

    I know nearly all of the TV shows from your childhood because of our age difference I didn’t watch most of these and I don’t recall the being on reruns, either. However, I did watch “Green Acres” which is a show I loved. I did watch “Big Valley” but I preferred Bonanza. Thanks for sharing such fabulous TV show theme songs for the 4M gang!


    1. I didn’t watch The Big Valley when it was on originally, but I watched the reruns when MeTV was available over-the-air in Atlanta. All the Westerns were kind of corny and predictable, but there’s nothing wrong with that. They were a product of their time, and remember, there were still quite a few of them on well into the late ’60’s. There was a reason for that…

      Glad you liked the set!


  8. Stellar list, John, which brings on memories of when TV was enjoyable to watch. Btw, thanks for the advice on Apache. I like it really well and it reminds me of MWord back in the day. Moving my documents was seamless and I gave MWord the boot. 😀


    1. I’m glad OpenOffice will do the job for you. It’s a good office suite and you can’t beat the price.

      We’ve been watching WATC TOO (57.2; not sure where it is on cable) several nights a week and seeing all the old shows: Riverboat, Man With A Camera (with Charles Bronson), Mr. & Mrs. North, Perry Mason (I think they only have the first couple of seasons), and The Mickey Rooney Show. You might want to check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. thing of the Perry Mason Theme. My brother used to sing “Perry Mason! Perry Mason! Perry Perry Perry Perry Perry Mason…!” of course he was about 6.


    1. A lot of theme songs have lyrics, but I’m pretty sure that one didn’t, so your brother did a pretty good job composing them. I did the same with the theme for “Quincy, M. E.” (“Oh, his name is Quincy, he’s the L A Coroner…”).


  10. Hi John,
    There are several shows that I don’t know or remember in your list. Bonanza was always a favorite of mine. Loved Alfred Hitchcock Presents and in fact just watched an episode of that last week! And I’m sure you’d figure that Mr Ed would be a big hit with me!
    I never got into the Avengers or Man from U.N.C.L.E.
    I enjoyed the Big Valley: always loved Barbara Stanwyck. Green Acres took me a while to get into that one but it was okay. And Perry mason I still watch today.
    The others though, never heard of. I’ll have to check them out.

    Hope you’re having a good weekend,
    Michele at Angels Bark


    1. Until I started watching the old episodes of “Steamboat,” I hadn’t heard of it, either. Every time I see Darren McGavin, I think of him in “A Christmas Story.” I always confuse him with Richard Crenna. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you.

      Perry Mason is classic TV. I’ve been watching the same episodes over and over for close to 50 years and it never gets old.


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